Working animals have played a hugely important role in human society for millennia. Animals such as donkeys, oxen, camels and horses still provide substance from their work for around 600 million people in the world today! Even in industrialised countries where machinery covers labour heavy functions, service animals are still extensively used. From police dogs that sniff out drugs to monkeys that aid people with disabilities, we rely on our working animals for a number of tasks.
Our important and unique bond with dogs has meant that dogs have fulfilled many roles for humans throughout millennia. From herding dogs in farming to dogs that sniff out cadavers in the aftermath of a disaster, dogs are versatile enough to train into many different roles.
In some countries, monkeys are used to gather coconuts from high up in tree branches. Though controversial, monkeys have been trained to gather coconuts for centuries in Asian countries. Monkeys are also trained to help people with disabilities lead more independent lives.
Horses, Donkeys and Camels
Horses, donkeys and camels have been used by people to help on farms, travel terrain and transport goods for many centuries. Those 600 million people mentioned above rely mostly on these animals for their livelihoods. There are several charities dedicated to helping working animals in countries where lack of education, poor animal handling and sheer abject poverty can make animals' lives difficult.
Though technically not within the working animal definitions which states that a working animal is one that is trained to perform a task it would not otherwise do naturally, such as a cat can't be trained to catch mice, it just does out of its instinctive behaviour, homing pigeons as messenger birds have been used for centuries. In remote places where communications were difficult, messenger pigeons relayed important information regarding disasters, and big news etc. Now, there is one final post for messenger pigeons used in a Northern State in India. The messenger pigeons are used by the police force for ceremonial purposes only now, but before, they used to pass messages all over the remote, mountainous region with great efficiency. Back in 2009, a company in South Africa used a homing pigeon to carry a USB stick with 4GB of memory and sent a transfer of the same amount of data via Telkom, South Africa's biggest internet provider at the time, to the same location. The homing pigeon beat the internet service provider by quite a margin!